Year: 1992 Source: Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Western Society for French History, v.19, (1992), p.217-236 SIEC No: 20010729

The purpose of this paper is two-fold. It aims, first, to demonstrate that despite the manifold problems any student of suicide must face, it is still possible to grasp something of the nature of self-destructive behaviour in Paris during the period 1836-1857. Secondly, the paper seeks to talk about the long-established tradition which treats suicide in Paris as a symptom of urban breakdown. It debates, in particular, the conclusions of the historians Louis Chevalier & Jean-Claude Chesnais. Chevalier argued the incidence of suicide was high & increasing at this time, that it was unevenly distributed across Parisian space & social groups, & that this was proof of the city’s pathological condition. Chesnais reinforced these conclusions arguing that immigrants to Paris & the urban underclass were singularly liable to commit suicide. (14 notes)